Harmony Korine

United States 1973

Photography, Painting, Drawing


Harmony Korine
Harmony Korine
United States
November 13, 2016
Nina Karaicic is a journalist with experience in TV and radio media. Born in 1989, she had studied at the University of Belgrade – Faculty of Political Sciences (Journalism). Interests: Photography, Art, Film, Folklore, Video Games

Harmony Korine is a famous American versatile artist – film director, producer, screenwriter and  actor. He is best known for writing Kids and for directing SpringBreakersGummoJulien Donkey-Boy and Mister Lonely. His film Trash Humpers premiered at Toronto International Film Festival and won the main prize, the DOX Award, at CPH:DOX in November 2009. His another great hit, called Spring Breakers was released in 2013. In addition to his success in filmmaking, Korine is also a talented visual artist who has produced many authentic abstract paintings and photographs.

Harmony has directed many music video pieces, available on facebook news channel
Harmony Korine – Untitled – image via dazedimg.com

Harmony Korine Growing Up Between Nashville And New York

Harmony Korine was born in Bolinas, California in 1973. As a child, he watched movies with his father, who used to rent Buster Keaton films and took him to see Even Dwarfs Started Small in the theater. Korine spent his childhood in Nashville, attending Hillsboro High School before moving to New York City to live with his grandmother. Living in New York City was an important experience for young Korine, as it allowed him to experience the big city with all of its fame and glory. Harmony also spent some time living with his parents in a commune, which helped to inspire the commune setting of Mister Lonely. As a teenager, Korine frequented revival theaters, watching classic films by celebrated directors such as John Cassavetes, Werner Herzog, Jean-Luc Godard, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, and Alan Clarke.[1] His plan for the future was to create his own movie style, which will be based on his unique visual talent and his appreciation of various dark and puzzling issues.

As a teenager, Harmony Korine frequented revival theaters, watching classic films by celebrated movie director and writer circles

Korine's movie Spring Breakers became very popular in 2015
Harmony Korine – Dazed – image via netdna.com

Popular Artworks and Movies Inspired by Dark and Absurd Humor

Much of Korine’s work is focused on the dark humor and absurdism involved in dysfunctional childhoods, mental disorders, and poverty. He is also known to incorporated surrealist, non-linear forms and elements into his work and present them in an experimental way. For instance, the artist used to mix Polaroids, Super 8 and 35mm, during the making of his legendary film Gummo. Another common features of his movies are blackface, tap-dance, and minstrelsy. I’m a huge fan of vaudeville – like Fanny Brice, Eddie Cantor, and Al Jolson… There’s this random tragedy associated with the decline of the vaudeville entertainer, which is a theme in Gummo that I completely stole from vaudeville, claimed Harmony in one of his recent interviews. Like vaudeville, the narrative of Korine’s work is usually abstract and works by free association. Korine compares this unique concept to an album of private photos. On their own each photo would be seemingly random and devoid of context, but because they are combined in one volume and presented in a certain succession, a narrative occurs. Improvisation is also an important filmmaking technique and concept for Korine, as a way to maintain his movies fresh and authentic. Korine doesn’t like to infuse his scripts with too many meanings and messages, as he finds it belittling to the taste and intelligence of his audience. With his puzzling films, Korine strives to retain a margin of the undefined, which is an important technique used by many famous contemporary film directors, such as David Lynch.

Like vaudeville, the narrative of Korine’s work is usually abstract and works by free association

The artist's movie Kids is one of the greatest successes in his career
Harmony Korine – Still from Kids – image via pinimg.com

Paintings and Photography of Harmony Korine

Korine’s films of the past twenty years merge reality with fiction. He also tends to combine shaky footage with precise editing, which creates unusual effects and holds the viewers’ attention to the split second. The artist’s eclectic mix of the unusual and the outlandish is present in his paintings as well. He uses brushes and art paint in favor of squeegees, as well as leftover household paint, and masking tape. Korine creates loosely sequential images that mimic the sonic and visual leitmotifs typical for his films. In his Starburst series of paintings, the artist sticks overlapping segments of masking tape to the center of the canvas and he also uses a broom to spread primary colors – red, yellow, and blue. After the colors dry, the tape is removed in orde to reveal bright, irregular shapes, exuding spontaneous and explosive energy. Harmony’s another famous series entitled Loop Paintings is the result of a process also related to filmmaking. In order to create this series, Korine cast many young men and women, made them up as elderly people, and photographed them. He then laid down the resulting photographs on canvas in the specific order that recalls experiments such as Eadweard Muybridge’s depictions of motion and Andy Warhol’s paintings. Other works of Harmony, some painted and re-painted over the course of several years, are typically inhabited by mystical creatures reminiscent of Goya’s ghastly Caprices. The overall hypnotic effect of Korine’s paintings is triggered by lifelike randomness and impulsive energy. In addition to his alluring paintings, Korine has also released a number of photographic collections. For instance, In 1998 he published The Bad Son in conjunction with Taka Ishii gallery in Tokyo, documenting his various photo shoots with Macaulay Culkin. A couple of years later, in 2002, his Pass the Bitch Chicken was released, a collaboration with artist Christopher Wool, which consists of Korine’s photographs heavily edited by Korine and Wool.[2] More recently, in 2009, he directed Pigxote in conjunction with the Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery and released by Nieves.

The artist uses a broom to change the usual approach and spread primary colors – red, yellow, and blue

Harmony Korine – Blue Checker, 2014 – image via shopify.com

From Movie Making to Fine and Applied Art

Harmony Korine doesn’t cease to surprise his audience with news, such as his recent works such as music video pieces, as well as many solo and group exhibitions held around the world. In 2010, Korine collaborated with New York Visual Artist Bill Saylor on the book Ho Bags.[3] The book consists of drawing and paintings in which Korine and Saylor drew over each others works. In 2011, Korine collaborated with the New York brand Supreme, releasing a set of two skateboard decks featuring  his original artworks. The artist’s long and successful career is truly remarkable because he managed to interconnect his artistic ideas used in movies and painting in order to create an entirely new universe, typical for its exciting and intense motifs of dark and absurd humor combined with hypnotizing visual patterns.

The artist is represented by Gagosian Gallery.

Harmony Korine lives and works in Nashville, TN.


  1. Korine, H., A Crack Up At The Race Riots, Drag City, 2013
  2. Gonzales, M., The Collected Fanzines, Drag City, 2008
  3. Kohn, E., The Collected Interviews: Conversations With Filmmakers, University Press of Mississippi, 2014

Featured image: Harmony Korine’s Portrait – imaga via pinterest.com

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2016 Harmony Korine: Shadows and LoosFrist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville, TNSolo
2015Harmony Korine: RaidersGagosian Gallery, Beverly Hills, CASolo
2015First Show/Last Show190 Bowery, New York, NYGroup
2014Harmony Korine - ShootersGagosian Gallery , New York City, NYSolo
2014Horror VacuiGagosian Gallery, GenevaGroup
2014SpiritPeres Projects - Berlin, BerlinGroup
2014Altars Of MadnessLe Confort Moderne, PoitiersGroup
2014Cinematic Visions - Painting at the Edge of RealityVictoria Miro Gallery, LondonGroup
2014Altars Of Madness - Casino LuxembourgForum d'art contemporain, LuxembourgGroup
2012BreadboxZieherSmith, New York City, NYGroup
2012Mix remixLuhring Augustine Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2012Sprechen sie dickJagla Ausstellungsraum, CologneGroup
2012Good Morning, CaptainCountry Club - Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OHGroup
2011Independent RitesV1 Gallery, CopenhagenGroup
2011Give - A Charitable Exhibition Of Limited Art EditionsCircleculture Gallery - Berlin, BerlinGroup
2011Dirt Don't HurtJolie Laide, Philadelphia, PAGroup
2011What's He Building in There?Fuse Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2011Wide Angle: Photography and Its Influence on Contemporary ArtVanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery, Nashville, TNGroup
2010InsertLe Confort Moderne, PoitiersSolo
2010Shadow FuxSI Swiss Institute, New York City, NYGroup
2010Salad DaysThe Journal Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
20103 plus 1Galerie du Jour agnès b, ParisGroup
2010Six Days OnlyTrack 16 Gallery, Santa Monica, CAGroup
2010Sonic Youth etc.: Sensational FixCA2M - Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo, MadridGroup
2009Harmony Korine: PigxoteVanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery, Nashville, TNSolo
2009GAGARIN The Artists in their Own WordsSMAK Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, GhentGroup
2009SONIC YOUTH etc.: Sensational FixMalmö Konsthall, MalmöGroup
2009SONIC YOUTH etc. : SENSATIONAL FIX Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, DusseldorfGroup
2008Sonic Youth etc. - Sensational FixMUSEION - Museum für moderne und zeitgenössische Kunst , BolzanoGroup
2008The Last 10 SHOTS >> polaroid 600 ausstellungBongoût Gallery, BerlinGroup
2007I will be alright - Country ClubCincinnati, Cincinnati, OHGroup
2007L.A. Desire (Part 1)Galerie Dennis Kimmerich, DusseldorfGroup
2006Beautiful LosersCircleculture Gallery - Berlin, BerlinGroup
2005The Gravity in Artde Appel arts centre, AmsterdamGroup
2005Beautiful Losers: Contemporary Art and Street CultureContemporary Museum, Baltimore, Baltimore, MDGroup
2005DrawGalerie du Jour agnès b, ParisGroup
2004Beautiful LosersCAC - Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, OHGroup
2003Exposition CollectiveGalerie du Jour agnès b, ParisGroup
200350th International Art Exhibition Venice Biennale / Biennale di VeneziaLa Biennale di Venezia, VeniceGroup
2000Harmony Korine - The Milk Chicken ReviewAnnet Gelink Gallery, AmsterdamSolo
2000Harmony Korine - Photography and Video installationSMAK Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, GhentSolo